Turkmenistan - 4-Industrial PoliciesTurkmenistan - Industrial Policies
According to the Law on Foreign Investments, foreign investors, especially those operating in the free economic zones, may enjoy some incentives and privileges including license and tax exemptions, reduced registration and certification fees, land leasing rights, and extended visa validity. However, the law is haphazardly implemented and enforced.
Foreign investors are more disadvantaged because they face higher tax rates than most local companies. Amendments to the 2005 Tax Code did not affect tax rates. The value added tax rate (VAT) is 15 percent, an income tax of 8 percent is applied to JVs, and an income tax of 20 percent is applied to wholly-owned foreign companies and state-owned enterprises. Dividends are taxed at 15 percent. The personal income tax rate is 10 percent. Under a Simplified Tax System of Turkmenistan, most individual entrepreneurs pay a flat 2 percent income tax.
The president has issued special decrees granting exemptions from taxation and other privileges to specific investors while they recoup their initial investment. The assets and property of foreign investors should be insured with the State Insurance Company of Turkmenistan pursuant to Article 53 of the 2008 Petroleum Law and Article 3 of the 1995 Insurance Law. National accounting and financial reporting requirements apply to foreign investors. All contractors operating in Turkmenistan for a period of at least 183 days a year must register at the Main State Tax Service. As of January 1, 90 percent of the workforce of a company owned by a foreign investor must be composed of citizens of Turkmenistan. Even large construction and engineering companies executing large-scale turnkey projects must comply with the new 90 percent law.
Petroleum Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) holders are regulated by the 2008 Petroleum Law. They are subject to a 20 percent income tax and royalties up to 15 percent, depending on the level of production. The social welfare tax, which is 20 percent of the total local staff payroll, is paid by all foreign investors and their subcontractors. PSA holders’ employees and their subcontractors pay a personal income tax of 10 percent. Under the Petroleum Law, PSA concessions have been made to eight foreign energy companies: five offshore and three onshore concessions for periods ranging from 20-25 years. Subcontractors of PSA holders can bring their equipment into the country only for the duration of a valid contract. There is no specific legislation that regulates the operations of oil and gas subcontractors. Turkmenistan currently lists 49 import and 20 export goods and materials that are subject to customs duties. The goods and materials on these lists are subject to a 0.2 percent customs fee payment and a charge of TMT20 (USD5.7) for every hour a Customs official spends inspecting the imported goods. The Customs Service maintains a list of goods subject to customs duty payment. State enterprises often receive preferential treatment; for example, wool carpets produced at state factories are exempt from customs duties. In contrast, private carpet producers pay USD 20 per square meter in customs duties to export a carpet. Foreign investors are required to adhere to the sanitary and environmental standards of Turkmenistan and should produce products of equal or higher quality than prescribed in national standards. Since Turkmenistan is not a member of WTO, the Embassy is not aware of any measures that U.S. businesses allege are inconsistent with WTO TRIMs obligations.
Research and Development
Foreign companies are not invited to participate in the research and development projects funded solely by the Government of Turkmenistan. However, the government will allow foreign companies to finance joint research and development projects and collaborate on them with government agencies.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The Law on Economic Zones for Free Enterprise was enacted in 1993. The law guarantees the rights of businesses, both foreign and domestic, to operate in free economic zones (FEZs) without profit ceilings. The law forbids the nationalization of enterprises operating in the zones and discriminating against foreign investors. Other rights guaranteed include:
- Preferential tax status, including an exemption from profit tax if profits are reinvested in export-oriented, advanced technology enterprises;
- Repatriation of after-tax profits;
- Exemption from customs duties, except on products of foreign origin;
- Export of products; and
- Setting product prices.
There are ten FEZs in Turkmenistan: Mary-Bayramaly; Ekerem-Hazar; Turkmenabat-Seydi; Bakharly-Serdar; Ashgabat-Anew; Ashgabat-Abadan; Saragt; Guneshli; Ashgabat International Airport; and Dashoguz Airport. The FEZs have not been successful in drawing increased economic activity, as the government interferes in the business decisions of firms located in the zones and has not financially supported zones’ infrastructure.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Ninety percent of the workforce of foreign-owned enterprises must be citizens of Turkmenistan by law. The regulation on this ratio does not differentiate between senior management and other employees. The State Migration Service controls access to the country and monitors the movement of foreign citizens. All visitors staying for more than three business days are required to register with the State Migration Service upon entry. Visa-related decisions are not transparent. Travel to most border areas requires a special permit. Representatives of foreign businesses seeking to enter Turkmenistan for the first time often have difficulty obtaining an entry visa unless invited by a government agency or by a local business partner. Established investors frequently complain about bureaucratic delays in securing visas to return to the country. The Government of Turkmenistan does not follow forced localization policies and does not officially require foreign investors to use domestic content in goods and technology. A few foreign companies working in the construction sector on government contracts reported that the government required them to use locally produced cement for their projects. However, this seems to be more of an exception than a rule. The Internet is provided by state-owned telecommunications company Turkmentelekom only and data transmission is not reliable. The government does not require foreign IT providers to turn over source code or encryption keys. We are not aware of any rules that require foreign companies to maintain a certain amount of data storage in Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan Economic Development and Investment